Tuesday, March 7, 2017
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Lane Roanoke's mother dies when Lane is almost sixteen. She is sent to her grandparents to live, the grandparents she has never met and whom her mother would never discuss. They live in Kansas, a place totally dissimilar to the New York city streets Lane has grown up on. When she gets there, she finds that the Roanokes are the premier family of the area, known for their riches and the beautiful Roanoke girls. She finds a friend in her cousin Allegra, who has always lived there.
Lane slowly learns to adjust and starts to trust that she now has a family, one that loves her. Her mother had never been happy and never really was a mother to her. Lane doesn't know why but it was the only evidence of family she ever had. Here, her grandparents are interested in her every move and love her unconditionally, especially her handsome grandfather. Lane and Allegra become fast friends and as the weeks go by she meets other teens, including Tommy who is Allegra's boyfriend and Cooper, whose every look makes Lane feel things she has never felt before.
But there are secrets hiding in the Roanoke family. Allegra and Lane are the only ones of their generation even though there were three sisters. All are now dead or disappeared. Even going back a generation, there are stories of women who died too early. What is going on? Why is the family both admired and feared in the town? As the summer goes on, Lane starts to find out the secrets that underlie the family's facade and when the worst secret becomes evident, she becomes another Roanoke girl that disappears. She packs a suitcase and hitchhikes away, never to return.
But now it is a decade later. Allegra has gone missing and her grandfather calls her, asking for her help. As much as Lane dreads going back, she feels that she owes it to Allegra to help find her while there is still time. Nothing has changed. The house is the same, her grandparents are the same, and even Tommy and Cooper are the same. The only things that have changed are the fact that Allegra has disappeared and the willingness of Lane to blow up all the secrets to find her. Can she recover Allegra and make amends?
Amy Engel has written a tense, compelling narrative both of a teen girl slowly discovering a horrible secret about her family and that of a grown woman determined to do what is best for the cousin she left behind. It displays the insidious nature of secrets and how they can damage individuals for years, even decades and once again, shows the reader that those who seem the most fortunate may be plagued by misfortunes others can only glimpse. This book is recommended for readers of mystery novels and readers of young adult novels who are ready for a more mature book.